Some best bubbles and life beyond Prosecco…

Above: I took this photo earlier this year atop Cartizze, the most prestigious growing site for Prosecco, where the cost of land per acre is higher than in Napa Valley. In 1998, Tom Stevenson wrote that Prosecco is “probably the most overrated sparkling wine grape in the world” (The Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, reprint 2003).

Xenophobe and racist Italian agriculture minister Luca Zaia has infamously and nationalistically asked Italians to drink only Italian sparkling wine for their New Year’s celebration this year. His campanilistic call comes in part as the result of a backlash from last year’s nationalized television controversy when the announcers of RAI Uno opened Champagne during a televised New Year’s eve event.

Of course, Zaia is also infamous for the favoritism he’s shown for his beloved Prosecco this year. He even created the Prosecco DOCG, placing the humble Prosecco grape in the pantheon of the top classification, before Common Market Organisation reforms took effect this year.

Above: Italy produces such a wonderful variety of sparkling wines, from the humble yet beloved Prosecco to the often regal, zero-dosage Franciacorta. Franco and I tasted an amazing array of sparkling wines last year together at Ca’ del Bosco.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Prosecco. And I love the place where it produced and the people who produce it. Just ask Alfonso: he remembers well how I guided us to Valdobbiadene from Trento earlier this year, without ever looking at a map, my Trevisan cadence getting stronger and stronger as my beloved Piave river and its tributaries came into earshot. You see, many years ago, I made my living traveling along the Piave river, from Padua to Belluno, playing American music for pub crawlers.

Above: One of the best champagne-method wines I’ve tasted in recent memory was this Franciacorta rosé by Camossi. Structure, toasty notes and fresh fruit flavors, bright acidity and fine bubbles, an excellent pairing for all the lake fish, smoked, pickled, and roasted, that Franco, Giovanni, Ben, and I ate one fateful night in Erbusco.

But there are so many wonderful sparkling Italian wines beyond Prosecco (Sommariva and Coste Piane are my two favorite expressions of Prosecco available right now in this country). Franciacorta is the first obvious destination but there are so many other producers of fine sparkling white wines made from indigenous and international grape varieties: champagne-method Erbaluce from Carema in Piedmont (Orsolani), Charmat-method Favorita from Mango in Piedmont (Tintero), champagne-method Pinot Noir from Emilia (Lini), Charmat-method Moscato known as Moscadello di Montalcino from Tuscany (Il Poggione), a rosé blend of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir from Langa in Piedmont (Deltetto)… Those are the first that come to mind but there are many, many others. Sparkling wines are produced in nearly every region of Italy, from the sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Trentino and South Tyrol to sparkling Ribolla of Friuli and the sparkling Verdicchio of the Marches. Once, I even tasted a sparkling Nerello Mascalese from Sicily that had been vinified as a white wine (but I can’t recall the producer… please let me know if you know one).

Above: Hand-riddled magnums of Chardonnay for Ca’ del Bosco’s Franciacorta.

Why do we feel obliged to drink something sparkling on New Year’s eve, anyway? I’m sure the answer lies somewhere between the royal court of Britain, the Czars, Napoleon’s vinous invasion of Russia, and some enterprising Germans who set up shop in Champagne in the 19th century.

Tracie B and I still haven’t decided what we’re going to open on New Year’s but I’m sure it’ll be something good.

On deck for tomorrow…

Best Champagne and other French sparkling values by guest blogger BrooklynGuy.

And in the meantime, please check out Tom’s post today on “classy sparkling wines.”

12 thoughts on “Some best bubbles and life beyond Prosecco…

  1. Just thinking how great it would be to sit at Enoteca Odeon in Treviso, staring at a mist laden Pescheria, Prosecco and cicchetti in hand…oh s***, i’m in L.A.

  2. Do:

    Thanks for the link and kudos also for mentioning the Orsolani sparkling Erbaluce. I tasted the 2004 Cuvee Tradizione Brut Gran Riserva 2004 with Gian Luigi Orsolani in Torino this past November and was extremely impressed.

    I’ll keep an eye out for the Camossi Rosé based on your recommendation – sounds great!

    Beautiful photo of Cartizze, by the way.

    Happy New Year to Tracie and you!

  3. Jeremy, nice post. In this country, Italian sparklers clearly don’t have the prestige of Champagne, and that’s unfortunate given the likes of Ca’del Bosco. I think it would be great to dig a bit deeper into Franciacorta. I think it rivals Champagne, and even my hardcore wino friends don’t know much about it. Beyond Ca’del Bosco, it’d be great to get more of your recommendations, in difference price ranges, etc. Also check out the photo with Maurizio Zanella, Donato, and Eric at the last Tre Bicchieri in SF. http://www.chevsky.com/2009/03/gambero-rosso-tre-bicchieri-2009.html

  4. @Elaine YES! YES! THANK YOU!

    http://www.murgo.it/BRUT.html

    I tasted it some years ago in NYC…

    @Gary I’m not the author of the Franciacorta article but I hosted the PDF on my server. It’s probably the best stand-alone entry on Franciacorta out there…

    @Vinogirl thanks for stopping by as always…

    @Tom I love that you call me Do (Edoardo “Do” Bianchi is one of my alter egos). And, yes, the Orsolani… killer wine…

    @Adrian Treviso is one of my favorite places on earth. LA, not so much… but still holds a place in my heart…

    @Tracie B it’s so thrilling to think that in less than a month we’ll board a plane and head for San Diego and our wedding… I love you…

    @Sgt. Sassafrass forward I’m heavy, backward I am not. What am I?

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